When Indiana University East Chancellor Kathy Girten talks with others about the Richmond campus, she has two attributes she regularly shares.
First, IU East is a family.
Second, as a steward of place, Girten and IU East are deeply committed to serving the community and region.
Family and steward of place are also two of the legacies she will leave as she retires at the end of this academic year.
Chancellor Girten announced today that she plans to retire June 30, 2022. Currently, she is also serving as the acting chancellor for IU Southeast. Girten was named IU East’s first female, and sixth chancellor, in February 2013.
“It is my great honor to serve as the sixth chancellor of IU East,” Girten said. “While this academic year is my last as the leader for this campus, I am as dedicated today as I was in 2013 to see the students, faculty, and staff flourish through academic excellence, innovation and service to community in an unprecedented time.”
Angie Dickman, chair of IU East’s Board of Advisors, has worked closely with Girten throughout her time as chancellor. Dickman is a vice president at Reid Health.
“Chancellor Girten’s retirement announcement certainly brings mixed emotions,” Dickman said. “While I am so happy for her, as she has earned this next chapter in her life, she will be dearly missed. Her ability to engage with all of IU East’s stakeholders – as well as with the community at-large – is a unique gift. IU East is an exemplary campus in the IU system, and her leadership is a big reason for its success. I am blessed to consider her a colleague and a friend.”
In one of her first acts as chancellor, Girten chose to have her installation ceremony in the Historic Depot District of Richmond, strengthening the campus and community connection. The Installation Ceremony, “A Steward of Place,” was held on October 25, 2013, in a moderately renovated, Historic Pennsylvania Railroad Depot.
The depot building, constructed in 1902, has since undergone a full renovation. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is now thriving under owners Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate First Realty Group, LLC.
IU East chose the depot for Girten’s installation due to its history and symbolism of the university’s connection and commitment to the community, connecting longstanding traditions and symbols to the promises of a bright and inspiring future, and a bright and inspiring future. Girten and IU East are deeply committed to serving the community and region, a vital component of the university’s mission to meet the needs for higher education and to foster a growing economy.
Connection to IU East is something that Girten says she will maintain even after retirement.
“When I became chancellor, I felt very welcome in the community, and it seemed like home immediately,” Girten said. “My husband Gary and I plan to stay here and continue to enjoy all that Wayne County has to offer.”
Joining the Pack
Prior to joining IU East, Girten was provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at California State University. She moved over 2,400 miles from Monterey Bay, California, to Richmond to continue developing the campus and enhancing its four-year and graduate degree programs; to fulfill the educational mission to the community and to contribute to the cultural and economic development of the region.
“One of my first impressions of IU East is that the students, faculty and staff here interacted more like a family than a campus community, and that impression has only strengthened over time,” Girten said. “I have also had many great opportunities to participate in local art shows at Richmond Art Museum, attend concerts of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, and to be a part of several in-depth and valuable discussions that will lead to a brighter future for IU East and Wayne County.”
When she became chancellor, Girten was married to Eugene Cruz-Uribe, who passed away unexpectedly in March 2018. He was an Egyptologist and a member of the faculty at IU East before he retired in 2017.
Girten married Gary Girten during a private, home ceremony in March 2020.
During the nine years as chancellor at IU East, Girten has achieved many of the objectives she first laid out during her installation, and continued to build on in the time since.
IU East Achievements
- Record enrollment: IU East continued its trend of increasing enrollment under Girten’s leadership. Highlights in record enrollment include welcoming the largest, most diverse incoming freshmen class in 2018. In addition, that same year, the headcount enrollment was over 3,700 students taking more than 38,000 credit hours.
- Record Graduation Numbers: The number of degrees awarded has steadily increased while Girten has been chancellor. The Class of 2013 received 626 bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and the Class of 2020 was awarded 853. Despite COVID-19 students persevered and the Class of 2021 was awarded 811 degrees.
- Record four-year and six-year graduation rates: Graduation rates for full-time, beginning bachelor’s seeking students have increased to record levels, with the 4 year official rate consistently the highest of all the IU regional campuses.
Additionally, Girten has led the campus in other areas as well, resulting in receiving the highest percentage increases in performance funding state appropriations.
- Increase in diversity: Increasing diversity and inclusion efforts on campus has been an over-arching goal for Girten. The diversity of students on the IU East campus continues to increase setting a record headcount enrollment of degree-seeking students in 2018. Diversity and inclusion are top priorities for Girten, as outlined in the strategic plan. Under Girten, the campus hired a new Chief Diversity Officer/Special Assistant to the Chancellor. The Diversity Commission also changed to the Diversity and Inclusion Committee with a revamped focus to support campus units in their diversity work and to implement the campus diversity plan.
- Introduction of new degrees focused on career advancement, civic engagement and global stewardship such as accounting, Spanish, applied health sciences, informatics, data science and graduate programs in liberal studies, criminal justice and public safety, and more. In all nine new undergraduate programs and six master’s degrees and nine collaborative online graduate certificates have been added to IU East’s portfolio while Girten has been chancellor. Additionally, she is the only chancellor to serve as the regional campus representative to the Online Advisory Council since 2014, representing the needs and concerns of IU East as well as the other regional campuses.
- Campus expansion and improvements: Over the past eight years, IU East has undergone several projects to enhance the campus grounds and buildings to better serve students and the community. One of the most significant projects is the campus’ completion of its fifth building, the Student Events Center (SEC) in August 2016. At the SEC’s opening celebration, Girten reiterated the importance of the IU East family, and the impact of close connections and working together brings positive change for the region.
“Together, we comprise one big family working to improve our region,” she said.
While the SEC is a main highlight, the last eight years have brought about improvements across campus to nearly every area students interact, learn or receive services. Several areas, classrooms, office suites, facilities and operating systems have been renovated or improved.
Girten also maintained close relationships with community partners.
Additional notable accomplishments:
- IU East completed converting the heating system in Whitewater Hall to a hot water system to improve efficiency and cost effectiveness, is now nearing completion of the second phase;
- Renovation of Vivian Auditorium to update sound technology, seating, carpeting and appearance, was completed in June 2020;
- Maintained and strengthened the partnership with the Women’s Tennis Benefits Association (WTBA) and Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) partnership. Currently, 15 WTA players have earned their degrees and graduated during Girten’s tenure including Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens, Alla Kudryavtseva, Irina Falconi, Katalin Marosi, Sandra Zaniewska, Ivana Lisjak, Anastasia Rodionova, Madga Linette, Nicole Melichar, Teodora Mircic, Shelby Rogers and Vicky Duval.
- Increased the number of athletic teams at IU East to 16, including the addition of the most recent varsity esports program beginning this fall. IU East now offers 15 men’s and women’s sports programs, and the coed esports program.
- Additional all gender restrooms and a wellness room for nursing mothers were constructed in Hayes Hall in spring 2019.
- Constructed an active learning collaborative classroom in Springwood Hall that features 10 collaboration stations and two large projection screens that display content from any of the stations, empowering small groups and the class to collaborate for a more immersive experience. Named the Kathryn and Eugene Cruz-Uribe Interactive Classroom in 2018 in recognition of Chancellor Girten’s and the late Gene Cruz-Uribe’s generosity through campus philanthropy.
- Naming of the First Bank Richmond Community Room in 2018 to recognize the partnership in the dedication to the region for higher education and economic development.
- Ongoing renovations to office suites for Academic Affairs, Administration and Finance, Admissions, Athletics, Bursar, Center for Health Promotion, Financial Aid, Registrar and more. Constructed student group study rooms in the Information Commons, upgraded the campus IT network and infrastructure; remodeled library spaces for the Center for Faculty Development and the Community Engagement Commons.
- Construction of a multi-modal path from Chester Boulevard into the main campus for student safety and a bridge from Springwood Hall to the Student Events Center in 2018.
- Began the construction of a unique, outdoor Archeology Lab providing hands-on experiences for students to explore and excavate, and to connect multidisciplinary elements for all students used to teach history, sociology and other social and behavioral sciences in fall 2018.
- Renovation of Whitewater Lobby to enhance the space and improve the lobby’s energy efficiency and technology, completed renovation September 2017.
- Construction of the Arts Annex in 2017, providing space for metalsmithing and sculpture courses.
- Renovated and named the Tom Thomas Gallery in Whitewater Hall in October 2015 in memorandum of Thomas (1945-2009), an IU East associate professor of fine arts, the founder of the Whitewater Valley Art Competition (WVAC) and a renowned artist.
- Quad renovation in August 2014 providing a more amiable space for campus gatherings and events through improving drainage in the center of campus; added landscaping with a rain garden and new perimeter trees, lit pergola, and replacement of inner sidewalks, and sculpture pads for the Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit.
- Installed the first Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit in September 2013, now on its third juried installation.
- Improved parking with additional 70 new spaces to the Hayes Hall parking lot with the project completed in January 2014;
Girten also led the IU East campus during two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring the faculty and staff were prepared to deliver high-quality education as all classes and courses moved to a virtual learning platform early on in the onset of COVID-19. IU East is familiar with virtual instruction, having been an early adopter of online education at IU. Along with all virtual-instruction, the campus experienced many firsts during the pandemic, including its first virtual Commencement Celebration for the Class of 2020 and its first virtual New Student Orientations to welcome the Class of 2024.
During Girten’s leadership, IU East received record philanthropic support, and in September 2020, was successful in the completion of For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign. IU East received nearly $8 million in new philanthropy during the campaign, including 46 new scholarships.
When it comes to philanthropy, Girten leads by example.
She and her late husband, Gene, provided financial support to assist with the construction of the Student Events and Activities Center. To recognize their generosity, the campus dedicated the Chancellor Kathryn Cruz-Uribe and Eugene Cruz-Uribe Interactive Classroom located in Springwood Hall. A second gift to IU East established the “Gloria & Joseph Allwarden and Lillian & Antonio Cruz-Uribe Scholarship,” to honor her and Gene’s parents. The chancellor gives regularly to IU East, and she and her late husband were inducted into the Indiana University Foundation’s Presidents Circle in 2018.
Community Organizations and Partnerships
As chancellor, Girten has continued the longstanding partnerships in place while establishing new partnerships and initiatives to benefit the campus and community. The most recent partnership established the College Now program to benefit area high school students by providing free college-credit courses that in turn, introduce them to the college environment, stimulate learning and encourage future academic achievement. College Now is available to all six Wayne County high schools.
The arts is one area that holds a special place for Girten. An artist herself, she has found ways to intertwine her passion and volunteerism to benefit the fine arts department, non-profits in the region and to bring awareness to the arts and campus. One such example is Palette to Palate, created by IU East and Richmond Art Museum. Proceeds from this collaborative fundraiser benefit the RAM programming and the IU East Department of Fine and Performing Arts.
In 2018, IU East partnered with Randolph County Schools, and the Community Foundation of Randolph County on the “Walk into My Future” event held on campus. This is an important part of the Randolph County Promise, a program to help third-grade students and their parents open a College Choice 529 Direct Savings plan, which may be used to pay for education beyond high school. The program is preparing for its fourth year.
Girten also joined the 2021 Preble Arts fundraiser, “Bad Art, Good Folk,” and entered a pastel painting of the Richmond Rose Garden for auction.
The campus received the Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce Achievement of Excellence, Non Profit, Growth and Expansion award in 2014 in recognition of the campus’ continued enrollment growth, development of graduate programs, and plans to construct the Student Events Center, now open for its sixth year. In 2016, IU East also received the Chamber’s “Corporation of the Year” award.
Girten has been very involved in the Wayne County community, and is honored to have received the Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce Art Vivian Distinguished Community Leader Award in 2020, as well as the Community Achievement Award from Amigos in 2018.
Girten was a member of the Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce board from 2013 – 2021 (chair in 2016), and was also a member of the Forward Wayne County steering committee. She currently serves on the boards of First Bank Richmond, the First Bank Richmond Community Foundation (vice president/treasurer), Reid Health, the Richmond Art Museum (second vice president), the Richmond Symphony Orchestra (immediate past president) and the Wayne County Foundation (vice chair).
While at IU East, Girten became part of the family, all while seeing her own family grow. She has become a grandmother, and extended her family to include the Girtens, and many faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members, as well as the greater IU family.
Girten said she has enjoyed her time as chancellor. She is looking forward to spending time with her family, especially her granddaughter, when she retires.
The Girtens plan to remain in Richmond.
“Being a part of this family, this Pack, has been a joy. I have so loved my time at IU East. I know I always say that IU East is like a family, and it has certainly been a family to me,” Girten said. “I’m excited about the new leadership of Indiana University, and IU East remains a strong and vibrant campus with wonderful faculty, staff, students and alumni. I am confident we will continue to thrive. I thank our campus and community for their commitment to our students, and to our campus.”
Susan Sciame-Giesecke, Indiana University vice president for regional campuses and online education, will be in touch with campus and community constituents as she moves forward with the process of searching for a new chancellor.